with the worst of the sickness/nasal congestion behind me i was more hopeful of today. the miles that i had to cover were the worst of it, or so i had thought.
i woke up late after sleeping in, attempting to let my body recover a bit. i made a cup of coffee and took a quick shower trying to get as much as i could from the cost of the campsite. the first thing i found when leaving was a series of huge hills. that’s not how i wanted to start the day. i thought it would be an easy start. oh well, i’m not going to get through them just by looking at them. after a few miles, i turned onto 82 towards tuscaloosa. it wasn’t an easy road, but i imagined that it would get better after i was through the city. after all, it was a major road to get to montgomery.
the humidity here is hard to get through. it doesn’t help that it was in the mid 90s today either. by noon, i had only covered about 15% of my day, where on average i’m usually closer to 50%. i couldn’t get speed. i couldn’t get over the hills. my entire body is sore. i’m hoping that it’s just from being sick, not from my previous days centuries. i’d love to continue doing those, but my body won’t let me right now.
after coasting along the sidewalks of tuscaloosa trying to navigate the best way through the western side of the city, i came back to 82. it was worse. there’s no shoulder, not even the paint can stay on the road from the white lines. it doesn’t help that it’s a logging route, where the logging trucks all seem to go as fast as they can. some moved over, some didn’t. it has to be the most dangerous road and route that i’ve been on yet. i stopped at the first gas station a few miles away. after a few moments of being heckled by the guys sitting around there, the ups guy said that i should take the next right, go past a few stop signs, then turn left. that would keep me off 82 for about eight miles. sounds good to me. it worked out perfect as well. once i got back on 82, a mile or so further, there was a shoulder. not a great one, but it’s better than having to ride left of the white line.
i continued on for another stretch, slowly. everything combined was draining me all out. it was only about ten miles until my next “big” town. i pushed on. i even cut off early to take more back roads. if i can’t pick up speed, i shouldn’t risk myself further on this road. i saw a walmart and decided to stop. i purchased a jar of goober grape, the peanut butter/jelly combo stuff. it’s easy to keep, since it doesn’t need refrigeration. i also got a loaf of bread. while sitting in front of the store making sandwich after sandwich, one of the cart guys says “heads up!” and tosses me a bottle of ice cold water. it was genuine kindness. i thanked him repeatedly, and he kept moving. i was ecstatic. cold water and sandwiches. my kind of lunch.
i left and stopped at the pizza hut for a refill of my water bottles and realized how much time had passed since i left the campsite. there wasn’t any way that i would be able to make it all the way to montgomery today. i had 124 miles to cover, but i had only made it about 50. i decided that i would get past brent, alabama and find somewhere to camp. as i reached closer to the eastern edge of the town, a guy pulled over and we talked for a moment. he asked if i would like to camp in his yard. he didn’t put off any creepy vibes and seemed normal, so i agreed. i needed the rest. he’s a police officer that works in tuscaloosa but lives in brent. he only lived a few small blocks away, so i rode over. i setup camp in his yard, then he asked if i would come in for dinner. i said sure, then scurried over to my bicycle to find the cleanest shirt that i had. all of them are musty. the rain that was a few days ago still hasn’t completely dried on my front bags and now all of my clothes smell like a wet dog. the humidity won’t allow them to dry during the day, and the same goes for night. i picked the least smelly one, grabbed a pod of laundry soap that lindsey had given me and rubbed it all over the shirt. now it smelled closer to wet dog soap. i guess it would have to do. i went in and immediately apologized for my smell, but explained that this was the cleanest item i had to wear. no big deal. everyone was fine with it. i sat and had dinner, offered to clean up and was told not to worry about it. we watched baseball for a short time and i had to leave so that i could get more rest.
my streak of centuries didn’t last as long as i had hoped, but there’s always other days to do it again. 124 was a goal that i shouldn’t have tried to shoot for to begin with in my condition. i finished the day with 55 miles, making the day tomorrow shorter as i’m staying with a warmshower in montgomery(!). day 38 done.